Short Story Worlds: A Pail of Air

This Winter Session, I took a class called ‘Short Story Worlds.’ The task was to choose one of a selection of short science fiction stories and flesh out its fictional world, focusing on key issues. A Pail of Air (Wikipedia summary) is set in a future in which the Earth is ripped away from the sun by a massive dark star, and in the frozen vastness of space, the atmosphere precipitates out, leaving the planet coated in layers of oxygen and nitrogen snow. The main characters are a small family who have survived in a makeshift hut, melting oxygen on a fire. They think they’re the only ones left alive, but in the end they are discovered by scouts from Los Alamos. The human race, far from dead, has retreated into nuclear-powered compounds around the globe. But are they truly at peace in a world where even air is a limited resource? I propose a sequel, in which the son of the original family leaves to discover the wonders of the human race… and ends up discovering some of its horrors.

UPDATE: You can now play a text-based adventure game based on this project, Pailer Air.

Map of the Los Alamos Compound Los Alamos Sun Plaza

The boy leaves home Flying across a not-quite-dead planet Welcome to Los Alamos The boy who survived... no, the other one Tour of the gardens This is why safety railings should be built to code The heart of the reactor And behind underwater airlock number one... oops.

Distopic government propaganda poster

4 Feb 2013 Play, Stories

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